Debbie Downer, Bob Bummer, & Co.

debbie-downerDebbie Downer is a term used to describe someone with a tendency to be the bearer of bad news and negativity. Debbie Downers can be found in every sphere of life, of all backgrounds. Her presence in any group or conversation puts an abrupt end to any happiness and enthusiasm of those involved. She is critical of herself and others, and fails to see why people can be happy about anything when there is so much to worry about. Bob Bummer is the male equivalent of Debbie Downer and is equally depressed and depressing.

Debbie Downer isn’t just negative: she is a pessimist to the core. She can see the downside to anything and won’t hesitate to mention it. If there isn’t a problem, she’ll create one — nothing is impossible. Debbie Downer plans for the worse and finds comfort in her negative mindset.

Most Debbie Downers and Bob Bummers don’t realize how discouraging they are to themselves and others. Instead they believe that they are only being realistic and everyone else is impractical and delusional. Only they know the truth of the situation, others can’t or won’t see what’s really going on.

Debbie Downers and Bob Bummers are not readily noticeable; they look and act like others do. But if you spend just a few minutes with them you’ll be sure to notice their negative mindset. Debbie Downer or Bob Bummer will say or do several of the following:

  • Proclaim any and all of your plans unrealistic and think of possible obstacles you hadn’t thought of and aren’t likely to happen
  • In the middle of your mentioning something positive that happened, remind you of something negative that occurred or will occur
  • Add “We have to look at both sides of the situation”, “You forgot to add that…”, or a similar statement to decrease the positivity or enthusiasm of the atmosphere
  • Criticize anything or anyone who would bring happiness to a situation
  • Talk about how terrible their life is and has been, usually adding more than once that life in general is hard and depressing
  • Begin most conversations by bringing up something negative that happened to them or in the world recently
  • Have a skeptical expression on their face or frown as soon as a conversation begins

Despite their negativity Debbie Downers, Bob Bummers, and similar people are not without friends. Some people mistake their negativity for realism or believe that their depressing outlook will be lifted after some time. Neither is true: Debbie, Bob, and Co. are not realistic, but pessimistic. And their troubles will never end because their existence depends on them — when one issue passes, they find something else.

Unless you’re a Debbie Downer, Bob Bummer or similar character the best thing to do is keep your interaction with them to a minimum. Their dejection can be contagious.

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10 thoughts on “Debbie Downer, Bob Bummer, & Co.

  1. I’m pretty sure this is me.

    I don’t think I do it to other people, though. Just to myself: I often admire people for their optimism. Or being able to relax.

    But it turns out most of those people are the ones who don’t have existential problems. It’s difficult to be optimistic when you’re unsure whether you’ll have money to buy food tomorrow.

  2. Aww…man, back in high school I was that girl! I was a Debbie Downer. That changed once someone told me and made me aware. It was something I picked up from my mother growing up…smh. Now I have 2 long time friends that are downers, one is a male and the other a female. Your right about distancing yourself from them, and that’s exactly what I have done.

  3. Im a bit of a Debbie Downer when it comes to myself and my own life. I have a bit of anxiety and tend to always think what could go wrong. I just cant help but think of the worst case scenarios after having gone through my share of worst case scenarios. With my coworkers/ bff/associates/family, Im very optimistic about whatever is important to them. Im the first one to cheer them on and if they have a problem, I will try to come up with what good could come out of it and truly believe that good will come from it for them.

    When its myself, Its very hard for me to think the same thing but I dont express these negative thoughts to anyone but my best friend and she is even worse then me with the pessimism but she’s also only pessimistic about her own life and no one else’s. Our conversations are funny sometimes. We take turns saying this same variation of this line to eachother “Im sure it will work out FOR YOU, but i know if I were in that situation, with my luck it would all fall apart” We are the type that we just know we are about to get fired any day now and when we cough its more than just a cough and the list goes on haha! Its funny

  4. Oh negative ppl, I can’t take it. I gotta go, I’m practical by nature but I’m never a hater and most of the time try to encourage ppl why wouldn’t I if I love and care for them. Being realistic shouldn’t always be a downer, there are positive parts in putting realistic options out for ppl and not just throwing gasoline and setting a flame to their dreams. Geez. If I get a whiff of negative spirit I’m done, I’m gone.

  5. This used to be me back in high school, but not anymore :). I’m waay more positive now, and I always try to maintain a positive outlook. Can’t stand negative people…my bf is friends with a few (ugh). One in particular will wait until you get all psyched about something before he sticks his pin into your gladbag.

  6. Mira,

    “I’m pretty sure this is me.

    I don’t think I do it to other people, though. Just to myself”

    I don’t think you’re a Debbie Downer. Just worrisome/anxious. Debbie Downers take on negativity as a modus operandi, and they are negative whether they have “real” problems or not.


    “Aww…man, back in high school I was that girl! I was a Debbie Downer.”

    I would never have guessed! You seem like a really positive, happy person.

    “That changed once someone told me and made me aware.”

    Good… hopefully some Debbie Downers read this and have a similar awakening.


    Isn’t it irritating? But it’s hard to explain to someone that they are bothering you by being negative, because they can get hurt by you’re saying so. And it just gives them more to be down about.

  7. Alee,

    Not sure. I do think my modus operandi is Debbie Downer, which is partly due to the way I was raised, and partly due to culture (in my country it’s considered ok for people to whine from time to time, because we know (unlike Americans, it seems) that everything doesn’t depend on us and our capabilities).

    What saves me from being a real Debbie Downer is not my optimism, I think, but my need for escapism. Sometimes, it’s too much (when I lose myself in it), but that’s the way I work.

  8. Jessica,

    See, there is a difference between being negative/a Debbie Downer and being worrisome. For one, lots of people who worry a lot would like for positive things to happen, but they’re just concerned about it not happening.

    Debbie Downers are actually more comfortable when things are going wrong because they consider it the natural state of affairs. When things are going right, they think something’s just around the corner.


    “Being realistic shouldn’t always be a downer, there are positive parts in putting realistic options out…”

    Right! If Debbie Downer, Bob Bummer, etc were actually realistic, they could see the positive as well as the negative. There is a tendency for people to equate realism with negative/less/inferior/etc, when they aren’t the same at all.

  9. Robynne,

    I would get away from that person… and get my bf away from him too. Before he turns into a Bob Bummer; you don’t want to spend lots of time with a person like that.


    Here’s why you’re not a Debbie Downer: You’re a friend and you don’t get on my nerves. Neither of those would be possible if you were a true Debbie Downer. 🙂

    I don’t think everything depends on a person and their actions/capabilities, but a larger amount than Debbie Downers and whiners would like to admit.

    Americans do not think everything depends on a person… no way. Lots like to blame the gov’t, their mother, their boss; everyone and everything but themselves for their problems.

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